This is just pure fun, from beginning to end.

Then again, maybe this represents relationships, church life and more?

Your pick.

Watch it a few times and picture yourself as each of the three characters. Show it to students and ask them to do the same thing.

Perhaps we say we’re always being kicked, not realizing we also do our fair share of kicking or setting it up to happen.

Enjoy!

 

Jesus used “everyday” material for His parables to tell people about the Kingdom of God.

You can teach your students and leaders to do the same thing by snagging pictures with your camera phone, throwing up on the screen and asking “What message or values does this communicate?” You can even bring them into this process and teach them to engage culture by having them shares the pictures they found throughout their week.

For example, I encountered a “Sinful Colors” display at a local store.

Sinful Colors

Colors include “Set the Mood,” “Dark Room,” “Mardi Gras,” “Boom Boom” and…. (strangely enough) “Innocent.”

So… what message or values does this picture communicate?




I’ve done youth group on different nights of the week throughout my years in youth ministry – thought it would be interesting to get a quick pulse on when you do “youth group” in your context. Vote in today’s poll!

JG

A few years ago, my wife Jennifer and I were asked to organize and lead a one-day children’s and youth ministry training for churches in our state that were part of our denomination. We invited a few speakers to lead different seminars throughout the day for both volunteers and staff members from local churches. My wife–who has a degree in human development and extensive experience working with kids and adults with developmental disabilities–led a seminar at the end of the day on how to minister to kids with special needs. During the break before that last seminar, a group from a church that had traveled a few hours for the training packed up to get a jump on their trip home. They explained that they didn’t need to attend the last seminar anyways, because they didn’t have any kids in their church who were developmentally disabled.

My wife handled the conversation very graciously, even though she can be quite passionate about caring for people with special needs. On the inside, however, she was thinking, maybe there’s a REASON you don’t have any kids with special needs! It’s very possible that a family may have visited their church, but left after one Sunday (or even before church was over!) because it was very clear that church would not be a good environment for their autistic or developmentally disabled child or teenager. In fact, it may be that a family has visited your church, but did not stay because they didn’t feel like it wouldn’t be a good place for their special needs teenager.

Not every church or youth ministry of any size is able to perfectly accommodate and minister to any special need teenager that walks through their doors. However, there are a few things every church can–and should–do to be ready to love and serve students with special needs. Here’s a quick list:

Be ready to serve. A teenager with special needs and her family will be able to tell right off the bat if your church and youth ministry is willing to serve them or not. While you and I both know that a teenager with special needs matters just as much to God as anyone else, most special needs kids are treated as an outcast in one or more areas of their lives. And what did Jesus do with people that the world mistreated? He loved them with open arms. You may not be a doctor or have a degree in human development, but anyone can serve by welcoming someone with open arms.

Educate yourself about different kinds of disabilities. Thankfully, my wife is a walking library of how to serve kids with autism, Down syndrome, and other special needs, and she answers a ton of my questions. Find a good book on the topic, or better yet, get to know a special education teacher in your church. You don’t have to be an expert, but a little understanding can help you be a better youth worker to kids with special needs.

Show a little grace to parents. Before they found their way to your church, chances are that the parents of a special needs teenager have had less-than-ideal experiences in how schools, churches, or other organizations have treated their son or daughter. So, if a parent has a few more questions than you’re used to, or if they seem to be checking up on you a lot, that’s okay. They’re just trying to make sure their son or daughter is being taken care of.

Help them know Jesus. If the Bible is to believed, then God wants every human being to be reconciled to him through a relationship with Jesus (1 Timothy 2:4). The last time I checked, an IQ test was not a biblical requirement for learning about Jesus. If you take the extra time to help someone who might have a developmental delay or cognitive disability to know Jesus, you’re being faithful as a youth worker. One of the highlights of career as a youth pastor has been baptizing a special needs student who was more excited than anyone I’ve ever known to be baptized.

Integrate them into the ministry wherever possible. The answer to helping a group of special needs teenagers is not to give them their own small group. Help them be a part of your family by actually making them a part of your family. Get them in a small group. Let them lead in some way. Pair them up with another student to help them have a great time during your large group gathering.

Be flexible. Be willing to go out of your way to help a special needs teenager attend a retreat or be a part of a small group. You might even need to make an exception to one of your rules. Parents of special needs kids are used to being told “no” when it comes to things their kids can do. Go out of your way to find a way to able to tell them “yes.”

Remember, you don’t have to be an expert on working with teenagers with special needs to be able to make your youth ministry a welcoming place for them. You just need to be willing to serve and go the extra mile.

Benjer McVeigh serves as a pastor to students at Washington Heights Church in Ogden, Utah. He resides in Ogden with his wife, Jennifer, and his two daughters, Bethany and Samantha. He blogs at www.BenjerMcVeigh.com.



My friend AC did a great weekend leader training last night and shared some of it on his blog. He did a great job sharing the heart behind the role of the volunteer at a service and gave some great questions for them to use when greeting students. Here are a few of his suggestions, might be good to rip off copy/paste in a note to your leaders this week!

  • What has been your biggest struggle in high school and why?
  • Do you have a crazy coach and how do you manage his/her craziness?
  • What are you planning on majoring in college and why?
  • Are you close with your parents and how supportive are they about (fill in the blank)?
  • What are some struggles you’re having in your walk with Christ?
  • How long have you been coming to church and what’s got you coming?
  • What’s the attitude towards Christianity in your family?

Head to his place for the rest!

JG

A while back I was in Costco Warehouse store [read: Sam's Club] for lunch and to stare at the display of magical flat screens that call my name when I walk in. Josh … you NEED a 75″ 3D cinema display…

After drooling over for the TVs for a while I like to head toward the food area, largely because of the incredible amounts of free samples they give out. They allow you to get a taste, see if you like it or the product speaks to you, and encourage you to buy it and then heat it up for dinner. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t – either way it is a good experience and one that I began to think about over the next few days that translates to our youth ministry philosophy.

Youth Group is the sample
The purpose of our large group meetings is to expose students to the Gospel of Jesus and encourage them to see a step they could take in their spiritual life. The message is neither shallow nor deep – it is a sample of the whole counsel of God designed to push them forward i their relationship with Christ whether they are a devoted follower or even hearing about Jesus for the very first time.

Small Group is where pick up the package and inspect it
The large group is designed to give students a taste of what Jesus is all about. Small groups are the next step where students begin to experience Christian community and are surrounded by changed lives and an adult mentor. Small groups are the place for questions, doubts, fears and decisions.

Individual Life is taking it to the checkout and making it your own
Our desire that a student sampled who Jesus is in a safe, relevant way during our weekend services. We’ve challenged them to inspect their faith and examine their lives in community and study the scriptures together. Now we want them to own their faith, that they would grow on their own and express their faith well into adulthood with Jesus. They serve on mission trips, follow Christ’s example in baptism and have a walk with Jesus that is their own.

Costco wants you to sample, inspect and own. We want our students to expose, experience and express.

JG



This week we snuck away for the afternoon to take a stab at creating the first draft of our fall youth ministry calendar. There were lots of laughs and some good ideas for what’s next for HSM. Here’s a few things that were running around in my head yesterday, and am thinking about as I continue to process the stuff we came up with for our students:

Kill the sacred cows.
Each year, everything is on the chopping block. Annual events are fun and I totally love and support traditions, but have to be careful they don’t become something doesn’t becomes untouchable. Sacred cows haunt the halls of too many churches, this will not be one of them. Nothing is sacred. That doesn’t mean it doesn’t hurt when someone offers up one of my favorites to be sacrificed, but I have to be willing to put a bullet in it.

Effective is what matters most.
This ties in pretty closely with the first principle, but what matters more is not size, buzz or fun. Those things do matter and certainly play into our decisions – but what matters most is whether the event we are putting on the calendar is effective. If a discipleship class is bombing, don’t get rid of discipleship, just search for a way to do discipleship that is more effective. If an evangelistic event is huge but isn’t bringing students to Christ and/or back to church, why bother with it? Put aside personal feelings and inferior measurements and talk about effectiveness.

Know your unique strengths, identity and culture.
Here’s a few of ours that help shape what we do: the fall has natural momentum with the launch of small groups and the launch of our weekend services. Fun after-service events have been way more effective than separate night our events. We are an evangelistic-leaning ministry (trying to balance the biblical purposes). If you know where you’re leading your youth ministry and have a firm grip on your strengths and specific culture, it will help you guide the planning session accordingly.

Last years successes can be this years successes … or failures.
Don’t change for the sake of change – but realize what worked last year may not work again. Copying the previous year may seem like a good idea (and it just might be) but be careful not to get too comfortable in the same path because they easily turn into ruts. Surrounding your past, present and future plans in prayer and asking God to guide you into your future is always a good plan.

I wrote 5 Steps to Calendar on Purpose a couple years ago … might also be helpful. What else?

JG

This summer a GUEST POST about first-time visitors mentioned a Bible called Daggers from The Dagger Project. The founder of the project, Jim Houliston, said there was a good amount of interest in the Bibles from the MTDB community and they just recently launched their site with the Bibles finally available for purchase. If you want to check them out, head over to their store today!

JG